A Virginia-based tech recruiting company has apologized after posting an illegal job listing seeking “preferably Caucasian” candidates on LinkedIn and other sites.

Twitter users first took notice of the offending employment listing by Cynet Systems. Outrage quickly spread over the weekend, and by Monday Cynet was scrambling to control the damage.

“Cynet apologizes for the anger & frustration caused by the offensive job post,” the Sterling, Virginia-based company tweeted on Monday. “It does not reflect our core values of inclusivity & equality. The individuals involved have been terminated. We will take this as a learning experience & will continue to serve our diverse community.”

“We understand why some may have been upset seeing this listing, because we were, too,” Cynet co-CEO Ashwani Mayur said, according to The Guardian. “We are also looking at measures that could help us catch offensive or outside-of-policy ads before they ever go live to ensure this can’t happen again,” he added.

In a statement to the Huffington Post, Mayur noted that “both of our owners are Indian-Americans [and] our workforce is over 60 percent minority.”

The Guardian reports the the listing was for a job at an unspecified pharmaceutical company in Tampa, Florida. However, it wasn’t the only discriminatory Cynet listing. Another one, for an account manager at a Virginia company, sought a “female candidate only.” Both listings have been deleted.

A photo on the company’s “about” page shows a multi-racial collection of smiling employees with the caption, “integrity/excellence/people/results.” Cynet boasts of its Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification, which is issued by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), a private third-party organization that certifies minority-owned businesses on behalf of US corporations.

“Being a certified MBE, we seek to partner with other diversity-certified firms to meet our subcontracting goals,” says Cynet’s website. “It is our firm belief that mutual partnerships will benefit all diversity firms and hence benefit corporations and communities in their larger goal in uplifting marginalized members of society.”

Employment discrimination based on race or color is illegal. In employment law, there are cases in which it is legal to hire by gender. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act contain bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) clauses, which allow exceptions “for certain instances where religion, sex, or national origin is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation” of a business. For example, a woman-only requirement is allowed for a job in which the worker would be helping elderly women to bathe in a nursing home.


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